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every temptation. Public spirit, without this principle, is but another name for private convenience and intereft. Without this principle, who would forego advantageous worldly prospects, and suffer, as Moles, for his people? He refused the honors and treasures of a court, and engaged in the cause of an oppressed people, because he had respect to the recompence of reward. The considerations of an omniscient Judge and a future reckoning are sufficient, and these alone are sufficient, to stand the shock of temptation. These considerations influence to every part of duty, and have the same influence in all times and situations.
Of what importance then is religious principle with reference to society and this world? Where there is reason to suppose that this hath commanding influence, we have all the assurance which we can defire, that those we are connected with will, according to their best knowledge and ability, fulfil the duties incumbent on them. We may place all that confidence in them, which can reasonably be placed in fallible, imperfect mortals. But where there is little or no reason to believe that religious principle hath influence, there can be no security that they will not break over every engagement in a time of temptation. The fear of God teacheth how to be abased and exalted, how to abound and suffer need--to pass through honor and dishonor, accounting it a small thing to be judged of man's judgment.
Secondly, this principle is of the highest importance, as the peace of our minds depends on the exercise and consciousness of it. Till we find this way of peace, in vain do we enquire, “ Who will fhew us any good ?”. Is there peace to any who are in the bond of iniquity? · And is not this the state of all who refuse the gospel offers ? Hath God revealed any way of deliverance from the guilt and dominion of fin, except through the redemption in Jesus Christ? They who are justified by faith, and they'only, have peace with God. None are
thus justified, but those in whose hearts Christ reigns who, whatsoever they do, do it heartily, and in the name of the Lord Jesus. He tries the reins and hearts. Peace is his gift-his most inestimable legacy to his disciples. He knoweth them that are his, and mani. fefteth himself to them so as he doth not to the world. All others, with the demoniac, walk through dry places, seeking reft, but find none. Ye who would have peace of conscience, commit the keeping of your souls to Christ. If in him you have peace, why should you fear the men or things of the world ? Enjoying this peace, though sorrowful, you will always rejoice; and having nothing, yet possess all things.
Lastly, that there is another life, and that our state hereafter will be the consequence of the character formed here, are obvious dictates of reason and revelation. Is it then of small importance what our inward principles and affections are ? At the judgment day every work, and every secret thing, will be tried, and the counsels of all hearts disclosed. It will be enquired what we have done, or left undone, and why. Where will the hypocrite then appear? where the openly vicious and impious ? where the contemptuous infidel? The Lord cometh, who knoweth the intents and thoughts of all hearts. It concerns us fo to act, that he may confess us on that day. To have stood fair with the world will then be of no avail, if the Judge and our own hearts know, that we rest in the form of godlinefs.
The force of this principle cannot be impaired by any possible alteration of circumstances. Having an impartial respect to the whole law of love, and to every point, it restrains from all violations, and excites to the faithful cultivation of the affections, and performance of the duties, of every relation, public or private, natural or civil. The high and low, superiors and inferiors, persons in all relations and circumstances, are alike obliged to cultivate the fear of the Lord, as they would fill up their place in life. In the treatment of their kindred, friends, neighbors, fellow-citizens and fellow men,all are obliged fo to demean themselves as to be approved of God. Difference of situation, a time of trial, alters the difpofitions and views of such as fear not God, fo that they sacrifice honor, gratitude, patriotism, friendship, and the nearest ties in life. Yea, luft and passion prevail to the ruin of reputation, health, substance, and every comfort. But where the fear of God is implanted, every call of duty, to ourselves or others, is attended regularly, in a steady course, whatever the obstacles, fnares and dangers. This principle is a ground of esteem and confidence : It is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death. Worldly and temporal motives, or affection and propensities to benevolence, may stimulate to the duties of married
perfons; of parents and children ; of masters and fervants; of rulers and people. But a regard to the authority and approbation of God has weight and influ. ence fuperior to all other confiderations: It strengthens all other incentives to duty. He hath placed us in different relations, ordained the subordinations of fociety, enjoined the duties of every rank, and observes how these duties are attended, and from what principle. If they are discharged as to the Lord, we then shall be found faithful in every relation and station alike fo in all circumstances, at all times. As God hath distributed to évery man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk.
Need we take pains to evince the reasonableness and wisdom of this principle of action, the fear of the Lord-of referring all we do to his glory, pursuing his favor as our chief good! What end, other than this, can be worthy of our rank in the creation, formed as we are to know, serve and enjoy the greatest and best of Beings? If our existence, with all our faculties, enjoyments and hopes, are from him, they should be acknowledged and improved to his glory. The lower animals have no knowledge of the power that made and preserves them ; nor any apprehension, except for the present moment. Why have we a presentiment, that the consequences of our present conduct will extend to a future life ? Are we then on probation for eternal retributions ? Scarce any thing can be thought important, but in its reference to eternity. It highly concerns every soul to act from such principles, and to such ends, as will be approved in the day of accounts. Study to few thyself approved unto God. Resolve, My heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.
The commendation of the discerning and virtuous is justly preferred to that of the undiscerning and vi. cious. Is not the praise of God, the honor that cometh from him, to be preferred to all praise and honor? He cannot mistake our true interest. His judgment is according to truth, and cannot change. His perfections are the standard of excellence. He is able to do for us above all we can ask or think. The glory and perfection of man's nature is advanced, in proportion as his soul is conformed to the image of his Creator. Every other principle, except this of supreme regard to the unerring approbation of God, is precari
This is firm as his throne, secured by his promise, has respect to all his commandments, and hates every false way. It is reasonable, it is highly important, that this principle bear fway, and regulate all others. When it doth, it is happy for the subject, and for all with whom he has any connection-happy on account of its immediate good effects, and by way of example.
Specious pretensions to piety may serve temporary, partial purposes : But the time hasteneth, when the reality only will be of any use. The great question is, What will avail in the day when the counsels of all hearts shall be disclosed? How are we viewed by Him with whom we have to do? Follow the hypocrite to his
final hour, which is not far off. Follow him to the judgment-feat. What is his hope! If the fear of God is the foundation of social virtue, let us examine, not merely how we demean ourselves in different situ. ations of life ; but also by what principles we are actuated ? whether indeed the fanction of religion accompanies all we do? Do we take pains that others may think well of us? If we take little or no pains to be approved of God, we have the greatest reason for inward blushing and confusion. If the appearance of virtue conduces to our present worldly intereft, the reality might more. Be this as it may, we are under the eye of God, who is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things—who will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing. To him our obligations are infinite. The only enquiry of any moment is, How may we be accepted with him? To this end we must be settled in the faith of Jesus Christ, rooted and grounded in love.
There is indeed much mixture of unbelief, and sav. oring the things of men, in real Christians, notwithstanding which their praise is of God. Imperfection and corruption are blended with their virtues. In many things they daily offend; in all things they come short of the glory of God and their duty, Still they walk in integrity. Have we this principle? Do we set the Lord always before us? Are we accustomed to acknowledge him in all our ways? Are we afraid of finning in secret ? and do we make conscience of secret duties, because he feeth in secret ? Have we no allowed reserves ? Do we study to improve in virtuous principles ? to grow in grace? Are we patient and unwearied in well doing?
We should often ask ourselves such questions as these : Nor should we dismiss them with, out being able to give a satisfactory answer to them,
Keep thy heart with all diligence : For the Lord pondereth the heart. The presence of an earthly superior has a sensible restraint and influence. The presence of